Friday, October 5, 2012

A World Without Heroes - The Unauthorized KISS Novel - An Introduction

          A World Without Heroes - The Unauthorized KISS Novel
 An Introduction

It started like this …
I was only starting to get involved with KISS fandom back in 1983, after having seen KISS on the Creatures of the Night tour and spending time with two friends who were deeply involved in fandom.  One night they were going through a couple of the relatively few fanzines (fan-created, small-press fan magazines) that were coming out in the early 1980s and complaining about how they felt the two of them could do a better job at it than what was coming out.  I listened to them go on about it for a time before finally telling them that if they really thought they could do better, then they needed to stop dreaming about it and put one out themselves to show how it should be done.
That bit of “put up or shut up” attitude led to the two issues of Strange Ways that came out in 1984 – 1985.  Both were 100 digest-pages long (there are 50 copies of the first issues that was magazine-size, but we went with the smaller size for a reprint later on) and featured reviews, artwork, quotes, and "sexy" calendars (boy, what were we thinking there?), with everything wrapped around chapters of a KISS novel I began writing.
So I wrote a few chapters for each issue, figuring at an issue a year, I wouldn't have any problems getting them done over time.  As it turns out - and what usually is the case for most fans who venture into fanzines at one point or another - It was a lot of work putting together the thick issues and by 1986 the three of us who made the fanzine had started to drift off in different directions.  Oddly enough, for a guy who was just sitting on the sidelines at first, I was the only one of the three to continue producing fanzines after that, with one called KISS Forum in the late 1980s.  That one lasted a few issues before it faded away in 1990, due to my concentrating my efforts on getting my KISS books, Black Diamond and Black Diamond 2, written.
As for A World without Heroes, with the demise of Strange Ways came the demise of my little KISS fan-fic.  Or so I thought at the time.
After the release of the two BD books back in 1997 & 1998, I thought it would be fun to go back to the KISS novel I had started and finish it off.  If nothing else, it would be a good exercise in writing something on a periodic basis, with the idea being that the website KISS Asylum (then run by Chris & John White) would put up a new chapter of the novel each week until it was completed.  They were receptive to the idea and that’s what occurred over the next year.
As I returned to the story, I updated the few chapters I had written back in the early 1980s, fleshing it out as I went along, while added new chapters about once every week or two.  The reaction was positive and I was feeling satisfied with nearly completion of it when I heard from Kathy LaBonte at MusiCare OnLine.  MusiCare was a charity project that had put out a few fan-performed and produced KISS tribute CDs under the title of KAOL (KISS Army On-Line).  I had gotten the second CD in the series to review and enjoyed it, telling Kathy at the time – in a joking manner – that if she wanted to ever publish the fan-fic as a charity project, she could.
Kathy loved the idea and with the help of some people at my old publisher, she was able to take my weekly online chapters and turn it into a 250-page physical book for sale.  The book came with artwork from my old fanzine pal, Larry Blake, as well as a CD of KISS songs (some in full and some just excerpts) performed by KISS fans that tied into each chapter – thus becoming a soundtrack for the novel.
The book came out in 2000 and sold well enough to raise a few thousand dollars for both a children’s cancer wing in a hospital in Wisconsin as well as some money for an Alzheimer’s disease group.  The only downside of it at all is that, in order to entice people to buy the book, we asked that KISS Asylum take down the last several chapters of the book from the website.
And by “downside” I mean how the chain of events that followed took place – the book sold out very quickly; the first few chapters stayed up on KISS Asylum (and can still be found there); people who read the first few chapters couldn’t read the rest of the story; therefore, I got swamped with requests over the years from people wanting to read the rest.  And I didn't really have a means to get it out there for all of the fans who wanted to see the "rest of the story."
So what to do?  I really did not want to self-publish a new edition as I just don’t have the time or energy to do it with my other projects going on.  Besides, the fictional exploits of the KISS characters belong to KISS and I certainly did not want the headache of anyone thinking I was trying to profit now on the writing when it was really just done strictly on a fan-level for other fans to read.
So here we are …
With the blog running and people coming here to read my stories about KISS and my other writings, I thought this would be the best place to reproduce the chapters of the novel.  As the book has been out for over twelve years and sold out within the first, I don’t think I’m doing any damage to the charity aspects of that project by having it appear this way.  Maybe as we go along we can find a way to raise a little money for charity?  That’s an idea, and I’d be interested in hearing from others that may have suggestions for such a route, but for now, we’ll at least get started with what we have.
What to expect …
I suspect I’ll be putting up a new chapter every week for the next several weeks.  Also, while I can already  see things I would want to change now after so many years, I’ve decided to leave the text as it appeared in the novel in order to keep it in the original spirit of the work.  However, before or after each chapter put up on the blog will most probably be some comments from me about the chapter in reflection as well as pictures and scans of things related to each (especially some of the original artwork that was produced in the book and Strange Ways for the chapters).  So, is this going to be the ANNOTATED edition of A World without Heroes?  No, I’m not that much of a blowhard, but it may at least be enough "cool stuff" to keep those of you who have read the novel before coming back each week to see what I’ve added on in reflection.
Things may change in this process as the weeks go along, but for the moment we'll go ahead and dive into the first chapter of the novel.  Hope those of you reading will enjoy it in the spirit it is intended:  a story from one fan to another about the only band that ever had super-powers.  Or should have.
The second edition cover of Strange Ways #1

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